Sweden recognizes file-sharing as an official religion

I mean…seriously?

From the BBC:

A “church” whose central tenet is the right to file-share has been formally recognised by the Swedish government.

The Church of Kopimism claims that “kopyacting” – sharing information through copying – is akin to a religious service.

The “spiritual leader” of the church said recognition was a “large step”.

But others were less enthusiastic and said the church would do little to halt the global crackdown on piracy.

The Swedish government agency Kammarkollegiet finally registered the Church of Kopimism as a religious organisation shortly before Christmas, the group said.

“We had to apply three times,” said Gustav Nipe, chairman of the organisation.

The church, which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) as sacred symbols, does not directly promote illegal file sharing, focusing instead on the open distribution of knowledge to all.

It was founded by 19-year-old philosophy student and leader Isak Gerson. He hopes that file-sharing will now be given religious protection.

“For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore copying is central for the organisation and its members,” he said in a statement.

“Being recognised by the state of Sweden is a large step for all of Kopimi. Hopefully this is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution,” he added.

Read more.


  1. Katie Angel says:

    What a crock! If this were April, I would think it was a joke. I fear for our world if this is the level of religious understanding shown by the government of an industrial nation.

  2. Hmm. Well. This is one of those times it’s hard to distinguish between “ha-ha, only joking” and “ha-ha, only serious.” Especially since computer guys are wont to claim they’re joking about something they really feel dead serious about. (The sidle method of dealing with deeply held emotions, beliefs, and logical conclusions which they’re not sure they should be holding.)

    So yeah, it’s probably a joke. In a way. OTOH, internet and bulletin board protocol from the earliest days held that, if you downloaded any information from anybody else, you were morally bound to “pay it back” or “pay it forward” by uploading files, equal or greater in size or value. People took this very seriously back then, and less-than-legal filesharers tended to take it more seriously. (Perhaps as a sop to worry about the morality of disobeying civil copyright law.)

    Given the difficulties of maintaining previously established fair-use rights in the face of copygrabbing, many people came to take the libertarianish view that although property was not theft, intellectual property was. The softer view was that blocking access to public forms of information was immoral, or at least that it was always a positive good (corresponding to corporal acts of mercy like educating the ignorant and feeding the hungry) to digitize and host information. It was a commonplace thing to compare communication and aid online in terms better reserved to participating in the Body of Christ or in liturgy.

    If you have these sorts of premises of morality and philosophy, then you pretty much have a religion going already. Which is why this sort of elaborate joke really isn’t much of a joke. There are a lot of filesharers who do practice what they preach, very diligently and religiously, and with a sense that morality and love oblige them to do what they do. If it also includes an explaining away of certain forms of self-indulgence, or an ability to feel righteous while doing wrong, that wouldn’t be the first time in the history of religions. “Ha-ha only serious” is probably the truth of the matter.

  3. I’ve been reading around. Apparently Swedish law doesn’t provide anything in the way of special privileges to registered religious groups. (Possibly they can receive “church tax” from their members, but I’m not sure about this.)

    The primary requirements are to submit a statement of beliefs, some sort of organization description, and some sort of designated religious service. (This leads to complaints by looser religious groups like Wiccans, because they don’t subscribe to a single set of beliefs, a common set of religious services, or a common organizational/clerical structure, and hence can’t be registered.) So there’s not much of a hurdle to being recognized.

  4. pagansister says:

    Different for sure. Got to watch those “computer guys”.:o)

  5. I can be cynical and just say typical European irreligion, but such irreligion is slowly making it’s way to our shores. So I’m not smirking when I say it. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  6. CTRL-C and CTRL-V?!?! An abomination against God and Nature!!! CTRL-C means interrupt/kill, while CTRL-V means nothing. copy/paste is command-C/command-V.

    [Comment edited to remove offensive content -- Ed.]

  7. Really, that was offensive? I thought it was simply poking good-natured fun at computer people and our tendency to turn every triviality into a religion, and then within five minutes we’ve got a religious war going.

    (I’m a C programmer and my husband a FORTRAN programmer. We both refer to this as a mixed marriage. Our 17-year-old programs hardware **sigh** Clearly the strain of religious division falls most heavily on children.)

  8. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Sorry, cathyf. You missed your satirical mark. Calling for death the blogosphere isn’t something I take lightly.


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